Practising Schubert’s E flat trio for a concert tonight, I remembered a delightful moment in a talk Bob gave about Schubert’s chamber music at the Florestan Festival a couple of years ago. He told the audience about the earliest known biography of Schubert, written by Heinrich Kreissle von Hellborn, whom Bob described as ‘Schubert’s first full-length biographer’. After a thoughtful pause, he corrected himself. ‘What I mean is that he wrote the first full-length biography of Schubert, not that he was Schubert’s first full-length biographer.’ The audience started to giggle. ‘I didn’t mean to imply that Schubert had had a succession of short, stunted biographers before that.’
For a few enjoyable seconds I couldn’t help imagining this gathering of pint-sized 19th century biographers, so short that, as my dad would have said, ‘their legs didn’t even reach the floor’.